After more than five months without an executive director, the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce board has hired Courtland Carrier, of Portland, to fill the position.
“I’m honored that they’ve chosen me,” said Carrier, who worked in the hospitality and tourism industry for about 20 years before spending 27 years as the program director and instructor for the Mt. Hood Community College Hospitality and Tourism Program, which he formed.
He left his position at the college earlier this year.
“I vowed to my students that I would retire eventually and go back into the (hospitality) industry because I love it,” he said. “It’s been my whole life.”
Carrier’s hiring followed an extensive search that began with 28 applicants from across the country. These 28 were narrowed down to eight candidates selected for phone interviews. Three finalists from Northwest Oregon were brought in for personal interviews.
Carrier, who said his friends on the board encouraged him to apply for the position, was the unanimous choice of the seven-member search committee responsible for recommending someone to the board, said board President Steven Sinkler in an email.
His first day on the job was Oct. 21.
“We’re pleased to have someone like Court, with his extensive experience in hospitality and tourism, represent the chamber,” Sinkler wrote.
The previous executive director, Eric Johnson, resigned in May after serving for 19 months. He was the fourth director to leave the chamber since 2009.
The search committee was composed of Sinkler; former board President Tracy Abel, who chaired the committee; Christen Allsop, owner of Cannon Beach Yoga Arts; Gary Hayes, owner of Pelican Production Inc.; Wendy Higgins, general manager of The Ocean Lodge; Kathy Kleczek, owner of La Luna Loca; and Julie Walker, owner of Center Diamond Fabrics.
As executive director, Carrier will be involved in event planning, business development and marketing Cannon Beach to the outside world. He said his goal is “to create business where it doesn’t exist.”
The seasonal nature of Cannon Beach’s tourism industry is similar to that of other locations he’s worked in, he said, and creating more sustainable tourism by building business in the offseason is part of that goal.
Carrier is familiar with the challenges the chamber has faced in recent years — challenges made worse by the high turnover rate of executive directors.
“My understanding is that they (the chamber board) haven’t really had a formalized strategy in place,” he said. “That’s definitely something I’m looking forward to working with them on, and crafting and implementing that.”
He said he will “work with the board and determine major priorities.” He plans to meet with business leaders and speak with them about “what they feel the chamber could do for them.”
Born in Illinois and raised in the Midwest, Carrier earned his undergraduate degree in business from Oregon State University, and later earned a master’s degree in hotel and restaurant administration from Cornell University.
For the last five years, Carrier and his wife, Kathy, have owned a house in Arch Cape. He has “cherished and relished the reputation Cannon Beach already has, and I’m looking forward to maintaining that,” he said.
While working at Mt. Hood Community College, Carrier sometimes took his students to Cannon Beach on field trips because “it’s such a great place to learn from” in terms of its hospitality industry, he said.
When people visit places like Cannon Beach, he said, they are “buying memories” — memories to talk about and pass along to others.
Visitors, he continued, want to have a cordial, comfortable, exciting time away from home and “have it be the best it could possibly be.”
Carrier said there’s no higher calling than making that experience possible and “being of service to other people.”